Globally, there are many different levels of protection used in working environments, but it is important to understand what levels of protection are available in terms of best practice internationally, and the standards to which the product protects. In European standards, the different levels of protection have been defined in terms of types. Types relate to different groups of applications with similar properties-for example, whether they involve protection against dusts, liquids, or gasses, and whether the liquid is in a strong spray or light splash form. The standards identify six Types to cover all eventualities -Type 1, Type 2 and so on, down to Type 6. In general terms Type 6 is the lowest protection level, namely “reduced liquid spray protection”.
Here is the content list:
Type 1-6 coveralls
The European Types
Overall Product ‘Classes’
classic Type 6 application might be paint spraying, for example. There are so many variables in any individual application you care to name that it is difficult to be definite and specific about the parameters of any application. Hence all protective clothing recommendations come with a disclaimer stating that it is the user’s final responsibility to ensure the garment is suitable for the application.
Type 1 is the highest level protection being ‘gas tight’ suits-fully encapsulating suits which completely seal the individual against the environment. Type 2 is a similar construction but defined as ‘non-gas tight’, and requires a positive pressure to be maintained inside the suit by means of pumping air into it. In between the two extremes are various levels of liquid protection relating generally to the spray intensity and volume of liquid. The odd one out is protection against hazardous dry particles (that’s dust) and is defined as Type 5.
1 to 6 should not be confused with the internationally recognised overall classification for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which in Europe is rated as classes. With Class 1 being ‘Simple’ products, relating to PPE not designed to protect against hazards and Class 3 being ‘Complex’ products, those designed to protect against hazards.
Classes I to III The Highest Class number = Highest Protection
Types 1 to 6, The Highest Type number = Lowest Protection
In fabric property ‘Classes’: Classes 1 to 5 or 6 (depending on the property), The Highest Class number = Highest Protection
So when choosing protective clothing the buyer needs to be aware of the international standards to which it complies and the protection it offers.
The garments most commonly used are those for Type 5 and 6 applications. Here the holes created by stitched seams are not, in most cases, critical, although the relative weakness of disposable materials means that poorly sized and/or poorly designed garments can result in problems when resultant stress on the seams opens up stitch holes, allowing ingress of harmful dusts or liquids. This is something users should bear in mind when considering very low priced garments. The major cost component of a disposable coverall is the fabric, and low prices are too often achieved simply by making the garment smaller and using less fabric – this can be an issue of safety as well as of comfort and durability.